By Sr. Mary Ruth Wand, SSND

Choice is at the heart of Jesus’ words to the crowds in today’s Gospel.  He outlines three decisions that define a disciple:

                1-Putting Jesus first, above all other persons, plans, and possessions.  Before family, before friends, even before one’s own life, a disciple chooses Jesus.  This choice had to be made by the apostles, by the other first disciples, and by all who have come after, down to our own day, faithfully living out a commitment to Jesus in all the circumstances of life.

                2-Carrying one’s own cross and following after Jesus.  This means taking up whatever duty calls us to lay down our life in service for the sake of others.  It involves making a realistic appraisal of the resources that we have at our disposal, just like the builder and the king in the two parables today.

                3-Renunciation of all possessions, allowing no thing,  no person, to take His place in our hearts.

Does Jesus really mean “hate” my parents?  My siblings?  My spouse and children? ” Spend my life carrying “my cross”?  Give up all possessions?  Is this another example of Jesus’ hyperbole, like when He said, “If your hand offends, you cut it off?”  No, but Jesus must be central and our focus above even good things, persons, and relationships.  Anything placed ahead of God is an idol.  When God is first, all else is in place. 

We are giving the most radical commitment of our lives when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We are committing to Him and His mission to bring new life to the world, and to bring all our relationships in our life to Him. We commit to work at having that mind in us that was in Christ Jesus.

Especially as this is Labor Day week-end, be grateful for the work you do and the mission you  are to accomplish.  Make your work a labor of love and do it in the name of Jesus.

Life happens and much in life is beyond our control.  Planning, as Jesus notes in the parables about the tower and battle, is helpful for negotiating daily life.  However, even the best human plans cannot account for every eventuality.  If we pray as if all depends upon God and live as if all depends upon us, we can find God in every situation of life. 

Taking up one’s cross and following Jesus simply means accepting life as it comes to us.  In this way we imitate Jesus, who did not choose his cross but accepted the one prepared for Him.  That’s easier said than done!  But if we take time to unite ourselves to God in prayer each day, we will find God present even in life’s difficulties.  Divine wisdom will boost human wisdom so that God can prosper the work of our hands.  Human planning will be informed by the wisdom of God.  Even a control freak can’t control everything and needs God’s guidance.  So, pray and live, taking up your cross as Christ’s disciple.